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Panthers get win in final D-SC match

The last chance for the St. Croix Central seniors wasn't working.

The Panthers were trailing two games to none to Pepin last Thursday in the last home match for the St. Croix Central volleyball seniors.

It took two words from first-year Central head coach Amanda Webb: "just play."

Instead of thinking too much, the Panthers went out and played, relying on their volleyball instincts. The net result was 15-8, 15-12, 16-14 wins to give the Panthers their first Dunn-St. Croix Conference win of the season.

"I told them this was their last home game, especially for the five seniors," Webb said. "They hunkered down and just played."

The Panthers were suddenly playing well in all aspects of the game. Pepin kept trying to pull away in the third game, building an early 6-2 lead and then getting ahead 14-12. Central then scored the final four points of the night to complete the win.

In every area the Panthers stood out. Laura Stoddard and Marie Nelson were both 17-17 servinig. Casey Kooiman and Justina Bisch combined for 33 kills. Nelson and Laura Dahl supplied 35 total assists.

The Panthers also came up with 63 digs. All 11 girls on the team contributed to the dig total, led by 14 from Kooiman and 13 from Stoddard.

Webb said the win was boosted by several of the younger players on the team stepping up their play.

"It's great we got that win. It will help our confidence going into Spring Valley," Webb said about Tuesday's WIAA regional tournament opener. The winner of that match will be back in action this Thursday in the second round of regionals.

The win against Pepin came at a great time, because the Panthers were hoping to get their first conference win two nights earlier against Glenwood City. The Panthers led in this match two games to one, but couldn't finish the win. The Panthers led in the fifth game, but the Hilltoppers came back for a 15-9 win in the fifth game.

"It was a very frustrating loss, we should have got that one," Webb said.

Katie Edwards was the Panthers' most effective hitter that night with 12 kills. Jill Hawkins was 18-18 serving and Nelson had one missed serve in her 24 attempts. She also led the team with 24 assists.

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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